How does Orlistat work and is it effective?

07 September, 2020  |  Holy Winter - Healthcare Writer

Orlistat is a medicine that can help obese people lose weight.  It works by binding to the lipase enzymes that help digest and absorb the fat you eat from your diet, and inhibiting their function.   This prevents up to 30-40% of dietary fats from being absorbed in your diet which reduces calorie intake.  The unabsorbed fat will instead pass through your digestive system.

How effective is Orlistat

In clinical trials, In combination with a reduced fat lower calorie diet Orlistat has been shown to reduce weight by an extra 50% compared to dieting alone meaning for 2kg lost by dieting Orlistat can help reduce weight by a further 1kg.  In addition to weight loss , clinical trials have demonstrated that Orlistat can reduce blood pressure and help reduce cases of type 2 diabetes in obese patients.

Can Orlistat help me lose weight?

Orlistat can help you lose weight as part of a low fat reduced calorie diet. You should take one capsule with each main meal; breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Once you have been taking Orlistat for a month you should review your progress and measure how much weight you have lost.  If you haven’t lost any weight you should stop taking Orlistat and look for another weight loss solution.

Orlistat is available for people with a BMI of over 30kg/m2, or people with a BMI of over 28kg/m2 with certain risk factors

Does Orlistat have any side effects?

The main side effects of Orlistat involve the passing of the unabsorbed dietary fat.  It is important to limit dietary fat to help reduce the frequency and severity of side effects which can include loose oily stools, abdominal cramps,  flatulence, oily spotting and urgency to defecate.

How do I take Orlistat?

Take one tablet of Orlistat three times a day with breakfast, lunch and dinner.  If you miss a meal or are eating a meal with no fat, you can skip a dose.  It is also recommended you take multivitamins once a day at least 2 hours before your dose of orlistat.

Orlistat is available in prescription form as the branded version Xenical and generically as Orlistat.  Orlistat is cheaper than Xenical but works in exactly the same way.  Prescription strength Orlistat tablets are 120mg strength.  Orlistat is available without prescription in the form of Alli which has a strength of 60mg.  Both treatment work in exactly the same way.

Reviewed By

Omar El-Gohary

Omar El-Gohary

The superintendent and lead pharmacist - registration number 2059792.

Omar is passionate about developing healthcare technology to empower our patients.

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